Book Review: A Teenager’s Perspective on Food Restrictions by Erica

How does one define a typical teenager?

One imagines they are full of hopes and dreams, hang out with their friends, go on  dates, attend the prom…hope they ‘fit in’.

Hey…I remember the teenaged years. Not a time I would gladly go back to but I understand that feeling of wanting to be ‘just like everyone else’ all the same.

With my curly, unruly hair with ‘frizzies’, freckled pale skin that burned in the sun and breathing issues that limited my ability to join actively in outdoor activities (undiagnosed asthma)...I remember that feeling of ‘standing out’ in a crowd.

Did I want to talk about it?  Not particularly.

Meet Erica.  Erica is an 18 year old teenager with hopes and dreams, loves playing baseball, hanging out with her friends and strives to ‘fit in’.

You see, Erica lives with chronic health issues…food sensitivities, joint inflammation, and cystic acne…and she wants to talk about it.

Erica writes a blog…Edible Attitudes A Teenagers Perspective on Food Restrictions. In fact, Erica has written a book about her journey with her chronic health issues…

A Teenager’s Perspective on Food Restrictions A Practical Guide to Keep from Going Crazy”.

Perhaps it is the memory of my teenage years of trying to ‘fit in’ or the fact that I have two teenaged boys with food allergies that make them ‘stand out’ that Erica’s need to share her story resonates with me.

My boys are not keen to talk about their multiple food allergy experiences but here is a girl willing to put herself out there and share her chronic health experiences in order to help others who may be following a similar journey.

Erica states, “I hope this book encourages you through your journey as much as writing it has done for me.”

Erica’s grasp on the importance of her health seems to guide her.  She states, “When you take ownership of your health and are self-motivated, you are more willing to follow your diet restrictions, because you know why you are choosing to eat this way.”

Erica understands everyone’s journey is unique…but she is willing to share with others the ups and downs of her journey to give others hope with their own.

As a parent with two teenaged boys with food restrictions of their own who are not keen to share their feelings on the topic…I enjoyed reading about food restrictions from the point of view of a teenager living in today’s world.

Erica is offering readers of my blog the opportunity to purchase a PDF version of her book, “A Teenager’s Perspective on Food Restrictions – A Practical Guide to Keep from Going Crazy“, for only $1!

Click here for a link to the PDF version and use the coupon code, CHRONICLES (all caps).





Two Recipes From The Toronto Star Cookbook by Jennifer Bain

Jennifer Bain, Food Editor of the Toronto Star, just launched her new cookbook…Toronto Star Cookbook.

Toronto Star Cookbook by Jennifer Bain

I had the pleasure of being one of the guests at the event. Click here for the post.

After reading the book from front to back…I was eager to try out some of the recipes. I thought I would start with a couple of recipes that were featured in the Toronto Star, March 30, 2013 Saturday edition, in anticipation of the big event.

The first…my ultimate favourite dish that can easily be adapted to a meal…a salad. Not just any salad, mind you…Jennifer titles this one, “Salad a magical creation”

Crawford Street Salad

Crawford Street Salad from Jennifer Bain's Toronto Star Cookbook

Jennifer’s description of the salad, “This creation, with its salty, lemon-lime-soaked onions, is loved by all who drop by for dinner.” She explains that it was “inspired by a Chilean dish served by Jumbo Empanadas restaurant in Toronto’s Kensington Market.”  Click here for the original recipe.

I decided to be adventurous with the recipe…something Jennifer encourages us all to be at the end of her introduction in the Toronto Star Cookbook…”Cooking is for all who try, too. Please be adventurous.”

I thought the lemon-lime-cilantro dressing, along with the rest of the ingredients, would pair well with the addition of some flaked tuna, quinoa and kidney beans. As I didn’t have a white onion…I replaced it with a red onion and used spinach and arugula in place of green leaf lettuce.

My adaption of Jennifer Bain's Crawford Street Salad from the Toronto Star Cookbook

Now it is more of a meal…perfect!

The second recipe was more to the liking of the boys/men in my family…potatoes!

Garlic-Basil Smashed Potatoes

Garlic-Basil Smashed Potatoes from Jennifer Bain's Toronto Star Cookbook

This potato dish is in Jennifer’s words, “my favourite way to eat spuds.”  Click here for the original recipe.

The recipe is from 2005 when food writer Susan Sampson adapted the original recipe by Bob Blumer…Food Network star and cookbook author himself.

In Jennifer’s version…”I amp up the garlic and basil, slash the oil and make flaky salt key.”

Well…the garlic was definitely ‘ampted up’ in this recipe…a whole head of minced garlic…raw! Yes, you read that right…a whole head…raw!

Now, I must say I was concerned…so I cut back…twice. I refrained from mincing the whole head and then refrained again at mixing in all the minced garlic. Even still, it was a bit too much for my guys.

My husband’s reaction…”A whole head…she must have meant a clove.”

Matthew’s reaction…”Are they meant to look so beat up?” “Mmmm…I like them…the insides are yummy.”

Michael’s reaction…”The vampires won’t be coming around.”

I loved the concept of the recipe…roasted whole little potatoes with a bit of olive oil dusted in salt and them ‘smashed’ with a fork.

I felt they deserved a second chance…the next night I offered them again. The boys requested them without garlic…not even a clove! I think they were ‘garlic’d out’!

Roasted little potatoes with olive oil and salt

These were more my boys’ style.

This is what I love about the Toronto Star Cookbook…all the stories, personal accounts, the history of how a recipe transpired…Jennifer’s journey of discovering new and exciting flavours throughout Ontario is educational.

With a reference section at the back of the book where all of Jennifer’s favourite places to shop are listed…she calls them her “go-to stores for the best and most diverse ingredients”.

It makes me want to get out and explore all the great venues in and around Toronto…to be just as Jennifer intended us to all be…adventurous!

P.S. Did you notice? Both of these recipes happened to be allergy friendly for our family. Hopefully they will be for your family too.


My Evening at Jennifer Bain’s Toronto Star Cookbook Launch

I was thrilled to have received an invitation to Monday’s launch of Jennifer Bain’s new cookbook…

Toronto Star Cookbook More Than 15 Diverse And Delicious Recipes Celebrating Ontario.

Toronto Star Cookbook by Jennifer Bain

Look at those mouth-watering photos taken by photographer Ryan Szulc.

Driving in from Whitby, I arrived at the venue a bit early…

The Cookbook Store where Jennifer Bain's Toronto Star Cookbook had her launch party

The Cookbook Store on Yonge St. Toronto. Click here for a link.

The Cookbook Store is celebrating it’s 30th Anniversary this year. Click here for a story The Toronto Star recently wrote about owner Alison Fryer’s cookbook store journey.

My early arrival gave me the opportunity to catch up with Jennifer and to meet her husband, young daughter and 6 month old son.

Not to mention, purchase my very own Toronto Star Cookbook

Jennifer Bain and I at the Cookbook Store ready to sign my copy of the Toronto Star Cookbook

…and have Jennifer personally sign it for me! I am over the moon!

With a bit of time on my hands…I engaged in a conversation with Jennifer’s daughter, Hazel.  I was curious to know what a 5 five-year would choose as her favourite recipe from her mother’s cookbook. In a very decisive manner…with no hesitation at all she declared…Mango Lassi.

Luckily, Jennifer was in ear shot and helped to describe Mango Lassi to me. Mango Lassi is a drink made up of yogurt, mango pulp, ice cubes and sugar…sounds delish!

I now have it marked with a bookmark that Hazel so kindly offered for me to take home.

The Toronto Star Cookbook is filled with a collection of some of the Toronto Star’s best recipes from “chef’s farmers, home cooks, food writers, store owners” with the addition of “25 READERS CHOICE  recipes, chosen by Star readers as their favourite of all time.”

The Toronto Star Cookbook reads like a book…full of Jennifer’s tales as a food editor, stories of reader’s love of recipes with a variety of recipes celebrating Ontario.

Of course there were selections from Jennifer’s Toronto Star Cookbook for us all to sample…Za’atar Pita Chips, My Favourite Hummus, Go-To Guacamole, Red Pepper Relish, Curried Red Lentil And Apricot Soup and my favourite of the evening…

A bowl of Cumin Carrots with Cilantro Vinaigrette served at the Cookbook Store at the launch of Jennifer Bain's Toronto Star Cookbook

Cumin Carrots With Cilantro Vinaigrette.

The Toronto Star Cookbook’s photography is stunning…the recipes were hand selected and personally tested by Jennifer herself…so I know, if the recipe sounds delish, it will be delish.

What better way to start one of my allergy friendly adaptations. I cannot wait to whip up my first dish!

The recipes I had sent in as my favourites for the Toronto Star Cookbook may not have made it in the top 25 READERS CHOICE…but I did make it in the book!

I am thrilled, honoured, ‘tickled pink’ that I made it in the Star READERS SPEAK OUT section of the cookbook…20 rave reviews from Star reader’s favourite dishes made it.

My quote read, “In your 2011 Cookie Calendar, I was pleased to note that the first cookie you presented, Peppermint Crisps, was dairy-and egg-free,” writes Susan Hawrylow of Whitby, Ont.  “Also offered was a gluten-free cookie, Spiced Chocolate Crackles.  Nowadays, when there are so many people with food allergies, intolerances and health issues, it is great to be able to find a variety of recipes to suit each of our unique needs.”

How cool is that?

Even if my dream of publishing my family’s journey and compilation of our favourite allergy friendly recipes into my very own cookbook remains but a dream…I feel honoured to have made it into the pages of Jennifer Bain’s Toronto Star Cookbook.

Click here to read all about Jennifer Bain’s journey of the making of the Toronto Star Cookbook in her article “So you think you can write a cookbook”.

As daunting as it may sound…my dream lives on!

Book Review: allergic girl by Sloane Miller

I recently finished reading “allergic girl, adventures in living well with food allergies by Sloane Miller.  I highly recommend this book to all those living with food allergies. (including family and friends)

allergic girl by sloane miller book

Sloane Miller was diagnosed as a child with allergies to tree nuts, salmon, eggplant, and melon (cantaloupe and honeydew).

In August 2006, Sloane Miller started a blog called Please Don’t Pass the Nuts. She has been a licensed social worker since 2000 and opened a private food-allergy coaching, consulting, and advocacy practice in 2007. In 2008, she started a membership-based food-allergy dining club called Worry-Free Dinners.

Sloane Miller’s goal: “to assist the food-allergic community members to live their best lives.”

Wow….she is my hero!

Sloane Miller is living the life that all those with food allergies strive to achieve… with the ” tools to be in and of the world with a little more trust, a little more faith, and a whole lot more fun.”

In her book, allergic girl, she covers strategies, from her real life experiences, on dining out and travelling. She wants those with food allergies to start trusting again and working towards stepping out of their boxes.

Her journey with multiple food allergies is inspiring to say the least. I find myself constantly referring to her.  “Allergic girl did this…” or “Allergic girl tried this…” or “Allergic girl says…”

After reading allergic girl, I feel confident that I can start to take baby steps to incorporate her strategies into my family’s life to broaden our life experiences.

I want to take them out to Calgary to encounter the mountains, Scotland to visit all our relatives (my dad was the only one in his family to immigrate), and England (to walk among my mother’s ancestry).

I want them to enjoy the experience of dining out. (I don’t mean at fast food joints) The pleasure of dining in a nice restaurant.

Alas, food allergies have defined our world.  It is time to free ourselves.  Live a balanced life. allergic girl is a beacon of hope for all those with food allergies willing to give ‘living’ a chance.

So get out your highlighters!  You will need it as you read through allergic girl.  There are so many tips and information that you will want to refer back to in your new journey in life.

Enjoy!  Like a good meal, so is a great book!

P.S. Allergic Living’s Spring 2011 magazine also did a review on Sloane Miller’s allergic girl. The cover article titled ‘Yes! You Can Dine Out’ was written by Sloane Miller.

P.S. Next book: Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl by Sandra Beasley

Don't Kill The Birthday Girl by Sandra Beasley book

Have you read either allergic girl or Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl?  I’d love to hear what you thought of them.  Please share in the comments.

Have you a book worth sharing? Please share in the comments.